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McStay steps down as Roscommon boss and retires from inter-county management

The 56-year-old was in charge of the Rossies for three years.

KEVIN MCSTAY HAS decided to decline the Roscommon GAA chairman’s invitation to remain in charge of the county’s senior football team for the remainder of his two-year term.

After three years in the position, McStay has this evening announced his resignation from the role, and stated that he is retiring from senior inter-county football management. 

Kevin McStay during the warm up McStay has announced his departure this evening. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

McStay’s future as Roscommon manager had been the subject of ongoing speculation, and despite the full backing of chairman Seamus Sweeney and the county board, he came to the conclusion that ‘I have brought the team as far as I can at this stage and a new voice and direction is now required.’

Under the former Mayo footballer’s guidance, Roscommon were crowned 2016 Connacht champions and this year regained promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz League having reached the final, where they were defeated by Galway. 

But their All-Ireland Super 8 campaign was less memorable, as the Rossies suffered heavy defeats to Tyrone, Donegal and Dublin, leading to McStay’s resignation despite signing a contract extension last summer. 

In a statement this evening, McStay said his three years in charge have been the ‘greatest years of my life’ but ‘I look forward to a less stressful period now, concentrating more on work and family life.’

County chairman Sweeney confirmed McStay’s resignation ‘with a heavy heart.’

“Today I reluctantly accepted Kevin’s resignation as Roscommon Senior Team Manager,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Kevin for his dedication and commitment to Roscommon GAA over the last three years as manager of our senior team. Kevin’s professionalism and knowledge were there for everyone to see. He has left Roscommon Football in a good place.

“I want to thank his selectors Ger Dowd and Liam McHale, and his backroom team who all did their very best to ensure Roscommon were as competitive as possible. We’ve had some memorable days from winning the Connacht title to regaining our place in Division 1.

“On a personal level I’d like to wish Kevin and his wife Verona and daughters every good wish for the future.”

McStay released a separate statement, referencing the difficulties he faced in the role, including the significant financial challenges smaller counties must contend with. 

“Our annual review of the 2018 season was completed recently,” it read.

“Having considered the many factors involved in managing a county football squad, and unable to resolve enough of those factors to my satisfaction, I have decided that a change in management should take place immediately. I feel I have brought the team as far as I can at this stage and a new voice and direction is now required. The handover to the next management group will be orderly and without fuss. 

Kevin McStay watching the game away from his dugout McStay has retired from senior inter-county management. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Winning the 2017 Connacht Final will always remain the happiest day of my sporting life. The joy, satisfaction and fun it provided to us all — players, parents, management, officials and supporters, is something I will cherish forever. The mayhem and madness of those few days will always be a warm memory.”

In addition, McStay thanked various people he worked with during his three-year tenure, including Fergal O’Donnell, whose controversial departure following the 2016 season saw McStay take over the reins on his own. 

“I want to put on record the inputs of Fergal O’Donnell, in particular, during year one; without his efforts the squads of 2017 and 2018 would not have enjoyed the benefits of the many excellent people and structures he put in place,” he said, while also acknowledging the ‘vast majority’ of the media ‘for their fair and accurate reporting on the efforts of our players and my management team.’

McStay concluded: “So, after much consideration I have decided not to take up the Chairman’s invitation. I’ve done three years, every one of them challenging and sometimes exhausting. In reviewing my time in charge I have to acknowledge the inordinate amount of time I spent dealing with financial and facility issues, personnel issues, media issues and the various contentious and controversial events that kept arising over those seasons.

“Success is what we all crave but we must understand our reality too. While Roscommon is a proud football county, it is a small county with a limited playing pool and deficits in resources and facilities. The budget required to finance success at the highest level demands year-round attention. Facilities, Catering, Kit & Equipment, Professional expertise and, especially, Travel costs are major financial drainers and they are placing a massive burden on voluntary officers that is often overwhelming.

“These are the significant challenges the smaller GAA counties face. If the GAA is committed to ensuring all counties are, at a minimum, competitive, then they must be supported financially in a way that reflects the demands and the need for fairness, equity and solidarity.

“I am privileged to say the Roscommon GAA family entrusted their team to me for three years. We had our share of special days, mostly grand days and of course, some very tough days. But overall, on reflection, these have been three of the greatest years of my life. Leaving the safety of the pundits chair for the passion and glory of the dressing room and football field is a decision I’ll never regret. However, today marks my retirement from senior inter county football management.

“I look forward to a less stressful period now, concentrating more on work and family life and to supporting Roscommon and Mayo teams in 2019 and beyond.”

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Ryan Bailey

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